Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown has already enjoyed a bigger NFL career than most probably imagined. The former sixth-round pick just finished his seventh season in Dallas, with most of his career in a starting or key role. But now a 29-year-old free agent and up against a wave of more recent draft picks, how likely is it that Brown will be re-signed this offseason?
The possible 2023 CB depth chart in Dallas has some stars and some potential heading into the spring. Pro Bowler Trevon Diggs is joined by rookie stud DaRon Bland and veteran Jourdan Lewis as the top three with Nahshon Wright and Kelvin Joseph for depth, both entering their third seasons. Safety Israel Mukuamu also showed he could provide quality snaps at CB last year.
Numbers alone don’t answer the question. Brown is the team’s most-experienced corner and, despite some of his own struggles last season, his absence after a torn Achilles in Week 13 was clearly felt. The compound effect with Lewis’ season-ending foot injury in October devastated the depth and solvency at the position.
We’d love to assume that Bland, Joseph, and Wright will all develop and improve over the offseason. But while Bland seems to have a bright future, there’s little evidence to support the idea of either Joseph or Wright being ready for a significant role. In fact, given last year’s legal issues and his fall down the CB depth chart, Joseph even making the team in 2023 feels tenuous at best.
The case could be made for bringing Brown back as veteran depth and insurance. His last contract paid about $5 million per season and, now older and coming off a serious injury, Dallas might be able to get him at a discount.
That said, cornerback is a position where the Cowboys shouldn’t be trying to simply maintain the status quo. It’s a spot where a significant offseason move, either in free agency or the draft, seems warranted to help push Dallas toward championship contention.
Getting another star across the field from Diggs should be one of the team’s top goals. It would allow Bland to focus on playing in the slot, where he’s best, and then gives the team some leverage with Lewis’ contract. There’s a potential $4.7 million in cap relief this offseason in the final year of that deal.
Re-signing Brown doesn’t necessarily hurt this plan. If Dallas can get him back at something closer to the veteran minimum of $1.17 million, that’s a solid backup option with more position flexibility than Lewis has. You’d still come away with perhaps $2-$3 million in cap savings depending on what Brown’s deal is worth.
Again, this is predicated on the notion that the Cowboys will make a significant addition at cornerback in the next few months. But even if they don’t, Brown still has value with question marks further down the depth chart.
It’s easy to assume we’ve seen the last of Anthony Brown in Dallas. But as we’ve just outlined, there are some realistic scenarios that could lead to his return. Hopefully, it’s not the biggest move that the Cowboys make at cornerback this offseason.